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Teasing Not Harassment

February 26, 1992

I agree with your article that sexual harassment in the Navy is a problem ("New Study Indicates Wide Sex Harassment in Navy," Feb. 10). This is a problem that must be dealt with as strongly as racism, especially with the new roles opening to women in the Armed Forces.

However, as a junior enlisted man serving in the Navy, it has been my experience that sexual and other vulgar comments are common not only among the men but also the women of the enlisted ranks that are peers. They are generally used in a slightly teasing and friendly manner by both sexes and not meant as harassment. I have witnessed times when someone would say something extremely vulgar, but the offender would apologize when the person offend ed spoke up, and they wouldn't say it again. This has been true for both men and women I have known in the Navy.

Although I have never personally witnessed such an act, sexual harassment involving physical contact is definitely inexcusable, as is harassment involving supervisors and their subordinates. When it comes to sexual harassment between peers, I believe many Navy personnel are confused, especially males, since sexual and other vulgar comments are commonplace between men and women.

The Navy's policy on zero tolerance for sexual harassment is something all members of the Navy should be educated about. Disciplinary actions should protect victims of harassment from further abuse or retaliation.

JOHN M. BETTS

Point Mugu

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